Masha Berman

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Christina DeGiovanni, the CEO and founder of Emerald Media Group, is optimistic. And enthusiastic. Her goal? To make pot pretty.

Emerald Media Group started in the cannabis capital of the U.S. in Northern California. The company recently expanded to Williamsburg, Brooklyn with the mission to shed a positive light on the cannabis community in New York City. Focused on the modern cannabis lifestyle, the group delivers free digital content, as well as an opportunity to subscribe to the print magazine, available at hot spots like Whole Foods.

Offering recipes and wellness tips, they claim to be a resource guide for anyone active in the cannabis community, or for those who are curious about what the lifestyle entails. The New York City community, according to DeGiovanni, has been very receptive. They want legalization and they’re disappointed that there aren’t enough resources on cannabis related topics.

Emerald Media Group launch party at 175 Roebling St.

But when asked about whether she felt privilege in being able to showcase cannabis from this perspective, while others in the city have suffered from incarceration for minor drug possession, her answer was idealistic. While it would be great if the tax revenue collected from the sale of marijuana would go to social equity programs that would right the wrong and give money back to entrepreneurs (especially those that have been incarcerated for marijuana-related offenses) and provide the much needed education we all may need about the use and benefits of cannabis, the real world application seems much more complex than that. While there’s definitely an understanding that a plan like this is at least five years in the making, it just seems like a lot to expect from a government that hasn’t shown a desire to tackle these issues with any real concerted effort. 

Brooklyn has seen 161 arrests for marijuana possession just in the first quarter of 2019, with a total of 606 across the five boroughs. Black and Latinx people are eight times as likely to get arrested for low-level marijuana charges than white people. Marijuana use is reported at the same rate between neighborhoods, but those with a higher population of people of color see a disproportionate number of arrests compared to those with larger white populations. Eight-six percent of possession arrests were Black or Latinx, and yet the usage is reported the same between groups. Bushwick is no stranger to these kinds of arrests. 

If the NYC government hasn’t taken the necessary steps to fix current inequality problems, why would they invest cannabis tax money into those who’ve been negatively affected, arrested, or spent time in a jail cell? 

Emerald Media Group print issues.

So, it’s important we question whether a person in a position of privilege should be able to make money from marijuana cookbooks and the like, while others in our city are getting arrested for using the same plant. Social equity is nice, but there’s nothing about our current society that’s equitable.

While we do appreciate that Emerald Media Group is working to shed positive light and provide a platform for those in the cannabis community to be heard, the only people that are able to really call it a “community” are those that know there aren’t going to have major consequences for their actions. Those are the people being heard. They’re the people that don’t worry about getting arrested. 

Emerald Media Group isn’t doing anything with the intention to harm, there is a place in Brooklyn and NYC for a cannabis lifestyle platform. People do want legalization and cannabis to become more a part of mainstream society. However, we can’t just get all excited about launch parties and edibles, when a large part of the city is getting arrested for doing the same thing. It’s hard to ignore the blatant inequality.

All images courtesy of Emerald Media Group.

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